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Chicago Blackhawks NHL Draft Profile: William Whitelaw fits the hockey profile the Blackhawks are seeking, but character could be a concern
The NHL Entry Draft will occur on June 28 and 29 in Nashville. If it seems like we’ve been looking towards this date since CHGO Blackhawks launched in March of 2022, it’s because we have! The Chicago Blackhawks won the right to draft future superstar Connor Bedard with the first overall pick. However, they currently own 10 picks in one of the deepest drafts in recent years, including six in the first two rounds. With that in mind, the CHGO Blackhawks crew will dive into some of the prospects the team is potentially targeting for some of those picks after changing the course of the franchise with the number one pick.
Today we’re looking water-bug, future Wisconsin Badgers forward William Whitelaw.
William Whitelaw Measurables
Position: Center/Right Wing
“Whitelaw is an undersized skilled winger who plays a water-bug game and does everything he can to put opposing players on their heels. Whitelaw is excellent at corralling the long flip pass through the neutral zone, tracking the puck over his shoulder and creating separation like an NFL wide receiver. Whitelaw has a wicked quick release and gets to the net front as well as anyone in the draft class despite his size. He needs to engage on the defensive end of the ice a bit more, but he should have time to develop that side of his game as he is heading to the University of Wisconsin, where he will get time to get physically stronger and round out his game.” – Tony Ferrari, The Hockey News
“I’ve had people tell me they think he’s turning into a bit of a star, but I just haven’t been wowed in my viewings. He’s a good, talented player without question. He’s a competitive guy too who fights his way from battle to battle and one skill play to the next. He can make plays in transition or make something happen out of nothing inside the offensive zone through a combination of will and skill. I just haven’t seen him really take over games as much as I’d like, though.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“With outstanding hands and an ability to fool defenders with his high-end skill, Whitelaw is one of the truly gifted puck handlers in this draft. He put up big points in the USHL, was even better in the playoffs and added more bite to his game. Still, he does not have a big frame and at points can play too individualistic to have success at the professional level which is why there’s a fair amount of risk tied to him.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey
“I’m not a Whitelaw guy. He’s selfish. There’s a reason he was left off the World Junior-A challenge team. It has nothing to do with his hockey abilities. He thinks I am better than all of you guys. My teammates suck. Add in that he’s small. Not a fun guy to put your name on the line with. What’s funny is he is a legit goal scorer. Legit release. Very talented offensive player and goal scorer.” – NHL Scout, May 2023 (via Elite Prospects Draft Guide)
Why William Whitelaw fits with the Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks have four picks in the second round of this year’s NHL Draft, with two more in the third round. If they want to bolster the depth of their forward group in the prospect system, they’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so and the flexibility to find a player like William Whitelaw with one of those picks. Whitelaw is hard to pin-down in the draft rankings with some draft analysts having him as high as the late-20’s and some ranking him in the late-70’s. All over the board.
Whitelaw’s game is one that could evolve into a perfect fit in a third-line role in the NHL. His tendency to try to go one-on-one with opponents will likely decrease as he makes the jump from the USHL to the NCAA next season and he’ll get ample playing opportunities as a highly-touted incoming freshman to a rebuilding Wisconsin Badgers program. His competitiveness and penchant to battle in the corners and at the front of the net, despite being barely bigger than Alex DeBrincat, makes him an player that the Blackhawks could easily fit into the budding hard-work, north-south play of the organization under GM Kyle Davidson and head coach Luke Richardson.
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